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George Galloway – Who Once Endorsed Richard Mawrey QC – Says Lutfur Conviction for Fraud and Illegal Practices “Shameful”.

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March 2007. Socialist Worker.

“George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, spoke in the House of Commons on Monday night during a debate on public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system. Here is the full text of his speech, extracted from Hansard, the official report of parliamentary proceedings (© Parliamentary Copyright 2007).”

In Tower Hamlets last May, we witnessed the most corrupt election held in Britain since 1872. Hundreds of votes were purloined by crooks applying for postal votes and getting them redirected to an address sometimes just doors away from the registered address of the voter. Whole blocks of flats woke up to discover that every one of their residents had applied for a postal vote to be redirected to another address without their knowledge. Some 2,800 postal vote applications were delivered to the town hall in Tower Hamlets in the last hours of the last day, and many were brought in by sitting councillors. A total of 18,732 postal votes were registered in Tower Hamlets: a vast increase on the vast increase that had occurred at the general election the year before. Almost 15 percent of those were delivered on the last afternoon. A total of 946 postal votes were redirected to addresses that were not the registered address of the voter, with considerably more as a percentage in the wards where new Labour councillors were under pressure.

For the entertainment of the chamber, let me say that, despite all this, our party defeated the Labour mayor, the Labour deputy mayor, the Labour leader, the Labour deputy leader, the Labour housing convenor, the Labour deputy housing convenor – I could go on, but the house would lose patience. In one ward, New Labour councillor Bill Turner, who won by just 38 votes, himself had postal votes redirected to the address at which he said that he was living. The system is so utterly without basic democratic protection that it is virtually impossible to detect fraud with a sufficient degree of proof to bring the matter successfully before an election court, where, as might not be known, one must demonstrate that the fraud would have changed the result of the election. Fraud can therefore be demonstrated on a significant scale, but if it is not enough to change the course of the election, the matter is simply thrown out.

Two petitions were accepted, and were prayed in aid by Labour members. But we were only allowed to have the postal votes for the winning Labour candidate examined, and the only check that we could carry out was a forensic examination and comparison of the signature. None the less, the handwriting expert agreed by all sides in the petition identified 30 percent of the postal votes as questionable, and believed that the signatures were probably from different hands in almost half those votes – and that was just sampling 300 postal votes out of almost 19,000.

It continues,

On top of that – this is where the issue of complacency arises – a major police investigation into voting fraud in Tower Hamlets is ongoing, and has engaged four police officers full-time for the past ten months. No charges have yet been brought – I do not know if they will be, as it is so easy to subvert the system – but Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman has already commented, on the basis of that investigation, that postal votes are particularly susceptible to fraud. Despite all the talk of there not being many prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that 390 cases of alleged electoral offences have occurred over the past seven years, and not all in inner cities. In Reading, only two of 46 postal vote applications examined were found to be authentic. Richard Mawrey QC *, who has been much quoted this evening, looked at ballots in the Birmingham city wards of Aston and nearby Bordesley Green. He said that there were at least 1,000 forged votes in Aston and 1,500 to 2,000 in Bordesley Green. The system of postal voting on demand is leading to a banana republic perception.

Like the minister, I am a former Labour Party official. I have been fighting elections for almost 40 years, almost always on the winning side. I know about elections. Now, for the first time in my political life, people ask me, ‘How do we know that they are counting these votes fairly? How do we know they are not rigging the election?’ I am not saying that that is happening, but there is a systematic undermining of confidence in the electoral process, caused largely by postal vote fraud.

Galloway observes,

Councils share the responsibility with government. Richard Mawrey QC considered our two petitions – the only two that we could get in front of the election court. I hope that the minister, who is laughing, will listen to what he said about a New Labour council just a few miles from Westminster, held by one seat that was only secured by this type of corruption. In response to our petitions, Richard Mawrey QC declared that the evidence that we presented showed ‘disturbing’ and ‘suspicious’ signs of ‘classic postal voting fraud’. He went on to say that a regime that allows electors to acquire postal voting ballots ‘on demand’ has been ‘an open invitation to fraud’, which has proved to be ‘distressingly easy’.

Yet in the wake of those comments by a Queen’s counsel, Tower Hamlets council, with its Labour majority of one, issued a press release that was such a falsification that Andrew Gilligan – remember him? The minister shakes her head. He was the only journalist to tell us the truth about the government’s lies on Iraq. He said in the Evening Standard that the council’s press release was a pack of lies. Who presided over all this? A woman called Christine Gilbert, whose intimate connections to New Labour are so personal that I would not like to go down that route. Suffice it to say that her reward for presiding over the tower of corruption in Tower Hamlets was to be made the chief inspector of schools at Ofsted. God save our children. God save the integrity of their examination results.”

Galloway is still fond of the electoral law.

Galloway refers Labour leaflet to the Director of Public Prosecutions

Posted by on Friday, April 24, 2015

A Labour election leaflet from candidate Naz Shah in Bradford West which is being delivered to every household in the constituency has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions because it contains alleged false statements aimed at affecting the election result.

Respect candidate George Galloway has made his second referral to the DPP under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. The complaint concerns an extremely critical statement about Galloway attributed to a local businessman, a pharmacist, in the Heaton Ward of the constituency, which the man denies making.

“This was brought to my attention by a senior consultant at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, who works closely with the pharmacist,” Galloway says. “I have made inquiries and I am satisfied that the man, a highly respectable man, did not say what he is quoted as saying. These quotes were printed alongside his photograph. He is shocked and angry and claims that Labour have failed to respond to his complaint. The quotes appear to have been invented and then included in Shah’s leaflet which is now being distributed by Royal Mail to every house in Bradford West. It is an absolutely despicable and desperate act by Shah and her team, but sadly absolutely typical.”

A defence under Section 106 of the act, False Statements As To Candidates, is that the statements made are believed to be true, “There cannot be a ‘reasonable grounds’ defence when statements are invented,” Galloway added. “I am urging the DPP to urgently investigate this blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the election.

But how times change when it comes to Tower Hamlets.

Meanwhile Nick Cohen comments: Tower Hamlets: how a dictatorship flourished in the East End.

See also this claim that Richard Mawrey QC was not “qualified” to pass judgement, and hinting that he had a “particular interest” in Muslims (see above!!!).  “sitting in judgment was one man only – not a qualified judge, only a barrister (assumed by the media and even myself, to be a Judge) – who has demonstrated previously a peculiar interest in Muslims and elections. This man found Lutfur Rahman guilty of multiple offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.” “Jen Izaakson asserts in contempt of the judgement that “. Law is, explicitly, to be applied differently to Muslims than as it applied to the ‘agnostic metropolitan elite’, whoever they are (is this the bankers in East London?).”

Here: A review of the judgement in the Lutfur Rahman case.

We learn with no surprise that Izaakson is closely linked to Richard Seymour – the ally of the militant wing of post-colonial studies, the racist and homophobic Indigènes de la République.

This is how he describes his politics,

Jen Izaakson

Jen Izaakson @Izaakson

Rootless cosmopolitan. Anti-humanist. Historical Materialist. LSE grad. PhD.

Izaakson’s ‘demolition’ of the judgement is laughable.

This incontinent drivel states,

In court one particular afternoon I watched as five Muslim witnesses were repeatedly asked, “did you say it was haram to not vote for brother Lutfur?”, as if these people were religious scholars in any position to do so. Within Islam there is a debate about whether to vote at all in elections, not about which candidate is the godly choice! To make such a claim, to decide god’s will and choose a specific man above another as more fated by god, I imagine, though I’m no sheik, would be sacrilegious.

No you are not a sheik, or a scholar or a gentleman.

Obviously the electioneering of the Muslim Brotherhood’s various branches from North Africa, Egypt and elsewhere,  has not come to the writer’s attention, to cite just one case amongst hundreds.

If Rahman was indicated as the only right ‘Muslim’ candidate is this not a problem?

If the Labour ‘Zionist’ Party was not ‘Muslim’, then is this not a problem?

Is there anything wrong with religiously motivated campaigning?

Apparently not.

There is a lot worse in this torrent of dissembling.

Just take one example,

Postal Vote Fraud

The evidence for these claims was the testimony of Andrew Gilligan, a right-wing Telegraph journalist linked to cronyism claims that has hounded Lutfur for years. Gilligan simply stated that two Tower Hamlets councilors had two addresses. To be clear: it was found that Rahman was guilty of this claim due to it simply being thought that Gilligan’s testimony was ‘credible’ (believable), without any proof. All that was believed is that two councilors had two addresses and then Gilligan’s assumption they therefore must’ve voted twice was agreed with.

See above for Gilligan’s past.

All Izaaskson demonstrates that the judge accepted the truth of a witness statement.

Has he any other alternative ‘proof’ that it was not?

No he has none.

The rest of the criticism, on organised religious pressure (see our previous post) is equally airily dismissed as the action of ” exuberant groups” – and whatabout Labour supporters own enthusiasm!

We wonder why there was a trial at all, Seymour, Rees and Izaakson could simply look at this “natural” enthusiasm with a wry smile.

Because they too backed Lutfur and wanted him to win.

* Richard Mawrey QC,“The judge who disqualified Lutfur Rahman is one of the country’s leading electoral law practitioners and has handed down previous, scathing judgments resulting in councillors being removed from office. Richard Mawrey QC, a deputy high court judge, specialises in election cases and has developed an acute awareness of voter fraud in his experience as an election commissioner – although there have been calls to improve the way the court operates.” Guardian. Wikipedia.

Charlie Hebdo Seminar in Queens University Belfast Cancelled Amid Fears for “Reputation” and “Security”.

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Can we Laugh About Everything? Not if Universities Have their Way.

This story broke yesterday but just how rotten the reasons given by the ‘University’ are are only just sinking in.

The decision to cancel a conference in Belfast on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo murders in France has been labelled “a bitter irony”.

The event had been scheduled for Queen’s University, Belfast, in June.

Vice chancellor Patrick Johnston said he cancelled because of the security risk and concerns for QUB’s reputation.

But two academics who had been booked to speak said it was ironic that an event about free speech should be called off in this way.

Self censorship was one of the themes of the conference.

Professor Max Silverman from Leeds University told BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster: “It is deeply ironic that what was going on in Paris this year to do largely with freedom of speech is actually being replicated by the university itself.

“There is a bitter irony in that the ability to discuss these topics has been taken away from us by this university decision.

“If you cannot discuss these sensitive issues in a university then I don’t know where you can discuss them. I do fear for what we value most in our democracies.”

Prof Silverman said the cancelled conference was now getting much more publicity but “for all the wrong reasons”.

‘Baffled and dismayed’

“Queen’s University has a wonderful reputation. It is a very prestigious institution. I don’t think this is going to enhance that reputation at all,” he said.

Dr Brian Klug from Oxford said he was both “baffled and dismayed” by the decision to cancel.

“Organising this was an admirable initiative and I cannot understand why the university has pulled the rug out from under their feet,” he said.

“We really don’t know what the vice chancellor was worried about. We haven’t been told what that security risk consists of. I think we are all owed an explanation.”

Dr Klug said that not only was it not the role of the university to stop freedom of speech, but it was “the responsibility of academia to respond to complex international conflicts in a constructive analytical way”.

The symposium: Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, had been due to be hosted by QUB’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities.

Twelve people died when two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, fired on the journalists on 7 January at the satirical magazine’s offices in Paris.

Five others were killed over the two following days by one of their associates.

Padraig Reidy in Little Atoms provides essential background.

The Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Patrick Johnston, was today criticised after the cancellation of an academic symposium on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo murders.

The symposium: Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, was due to be hosted in June by QUB’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities. But delegates, including Oxford University philosopher Brian Klug were informed via email on Monday (20 April) that the event would not go ahead.

The email informed speakers: “The Vice Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast has made the decision just this morning that he does not wish our symposium to go ahead. He is concerned about the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university.”

Doctor Klug said this morning he is “baffled” and “dismayed” by the decision.

“I don’t understand either of his concerns. The second – the reputation of the university – strikes me as ironic, as his action does not exactly reflect well on Queens,” he told Little Atoms via email.

More on Little Atoms.

Nick Cohen has commented on this story,

The Vice Chancellor at Queen’s – one Paul Johnston –  cancelled the discussion yesterday because he was “concerned about the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university.”

What to make of his cowardice?

The most obvious point is that senior academics now see suppression of debate as a means of protecting “the reputation of the university”. Freedom of thought and open argument, once the best reasons for having universities, are now threats which must be neutered.

Second, it is now not only difficult or impossible to satirise Islam because of fear of violence, it is becoming difficult or impossible in British universities to discuss the actual violence. Not only can you not show Charlie Hebdo cartoons, you cannot talk about the motives of the men who murdered the cartoonists. Third, although he cannot prove this, Walsh suspects that there was no real security risk, just the possibility that someone’s feelings would be hurt when he and others unequivocally condemned the murderers of cartoonists and Jews. The possibility that someone will or may hear an argument he or she does not like is now enough to justify censorship.

Finally, Queen’s has made the vice-chancellors and academics protesting against the Conservatives’ plans to ban Islamists look like perfect fools and utter hypocrites. If universities censor learned debates on Islamism, how can they possibly deny the state the right to censor Islamists?

The beloved martyr Charb’s book Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes has been extensively commented on in the English speaking media.

There is a very fine article today in the Independent today:

Charlie Hebdo editor’s final book: ‘Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists’.

This is worth underlining,

Stéphane Charbonnier was a cartoonist and writer. He was a supporter of the French Communist Party. And while, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo aggressively poked fun at Catholicism and Judaism as well as radical Islam, his book – published in France last week – is a passionate rejection of the allegations that, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo was “racist” or “Islamophobic”.

In the book, Charb, as he was always known, defends his publication of cartoons mocking radical Islam and caricaturing (but never mocking) the Prophet Mohamed. He argues – from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint – that the word “Islamophobia” is a trap, set by an unholy alliance of Muslim radicals and the unthinking, liberal Western media. The real issue, he says, is racism and Charlie Hebdo was never racist…

The Indy’s article is essential reading.

And in French there’s more: EXCLUSIF. Le testament de Charb

Tué il y a trois mois, le directeur de “Charlie Hebdo” venait d’achever un livre où il répondait aux accusations d’islamophobie pesant sur son journal. “L’Obs” en publie aujourd’hui les extraits.

 https://i1.wp.com/cdn-parismatch.ladmedia.fr/var/news/storage/images/media/images/charia-hebdo/517440-1-fre-FR/charia-hebdo_inside_full_content_pm_v8.jpg

1o0 Lashes of the Whip if you don’t just Die Laughing.

Wanking While You Work, Debate Shakes Left Unity.

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Key Debate that’s Come out of the Closet. 

The class struggle hots up.

TUSC has a general election broadcast and the  Republican Socialist Campaign for Merrie England in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, looks set to go well into a double figure vote.

The Communist League (aligned to the US paper The Militant) is also mounting a serious challenge in Manchester Central (parliamentary election), Tirsén (Bradford ward) and Andrés Mendoza (Moston ward) standing for election to Manchester City Council for the May 7 elections. In London, engineering worker and historic ‘éminence grise” of the International Marxist Group Jonathan Silberman is the Communist League candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

The CL is gaining support for its internationalism. As a doorstep exchange shows, “For us, it’s about everyone having access to the care they need,” Davies responded. “These are the values you see in Cuba, because workers and farmers took power there in 1959.

 The Workers Revolutionary Party is putting up a courageous fight, in amongst other places, the Coatesite Heimat, Hornsey & Wood Green, with comrade  Frank Sweeney as a promising candidate.

As they point out, “We are part of the World Party of Socialist Revolution, the International Committee of the Fourth International, with sections around the world. We base ourselves on Marxist theory developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky as a guide to the practice of building the Fourth International.”

These are just some who make up a record number of candidates to the left of Labour – says Phil,  On the Far Left’s General Election Campaign.

Socialist Worker comments, ““We are building a serious network for the battles ahead. But this raises questions about where we go next—and the possibility of a more united left.”

Indeed.

This has inspired deep strategic thinking.

As an example we can cite the following:

We learn that here’s a Left Unity Facebook thread on whether you have a “right” to masturbate at work, or, if in intersectional terms, if taking your turn at the self-service station is held back/reinforced by/against/through gender and class hierarchies, not to mention the construction of discursive oppressions and narratives.

Discussion first began inside the National Union of Students (see notice above), following concerns amongst student youth.

Details are slow to come, but apparently this is the major issue that’s tossing the British left into a whole new ball game.

More, doubtless, to follow, in the pages of the indispensable Weekly Worker.

On the Ambiguities of ‘Islamophobia'; Debate Launched by Yves Colman and AWL.

with 13 comments

The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.

These are some comments on one section,  About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.

The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by  French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with  Gérard Noiriel. 2011).  I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly  interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.

This, nevertheless,  suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but   that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.

Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is  doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.

We have to begin, then,  by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics.  Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion. 

Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.

He begins,

I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.

Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:

• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;

• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;

• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!

It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.

Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.

It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.

Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.

There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.

UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels,  single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.

But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s  Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule. 

These reservations should not obscure the principal point that  across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.

In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.

How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” .  Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.

These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.

The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.

As a first step we have to look at what we should not do. 

The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by  Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach.  (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)

Mahamdallie works with this central premise,

Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.

This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.

‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to  a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:

local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.

These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….

Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.

But, (we learn)

…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.

It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.

No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..

We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.

Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.

But what of  organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……

There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...

Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015(1)

Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?

Clearly not.

Multiculturalism. 

Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out

“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”

The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).

This asserts,

“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”

He states,

Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.

I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the  ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.

To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.

Anti-Semitism.

“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “

In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.

There is another example of this in the  Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others).  Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism  in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).

We wonder where this particular journey will end.

 In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.

As the comrade says,

It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.

More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.

More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic  Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR)Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne !  (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).

Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn by Houria Bouteldja, membre of PIR translated into English.

The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).

Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……

How awful.

(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Top New Statesman Writer, Francois-Cerrah, Spits on Charb and the Charlie Martyrs’ Graves.

with 7 comments

Charb: Took Advantage of Own Death to Make Money, Says New Statesman Writer.

M Francois-Cerrah

Myriam Francois-Cerrah

New Statesman writer; FL journo; Oxford PhD researcher; France, MENA, postcoloniality. Views=own. http://journalisted.com/myriam-francois-cerrah

 

 

These are some extracts (adapted)  from the book she is referring to:

“Racism and not of Islamophobia“The term ‘Islamophobia’ is badly chosen to designate the hatred that some cretins have of Muslims. It is not only badly chosen but it is also also  dangerous.”Charb wrote:”Communitarian activists try to impose on the judicial and political authorities the notion of ‘Islamophobia’. This has no other purpose than to push the victims of racism to assert that they are Muslims (…) If tomorrow all French Muslims converted to Catholicism or abandoned their religion, this would not change the main racist discourse: that foreigners or those who are French but of foreign origin are and will be always be held responsible for every kind of fault. “

“The Qu’ran or the Bible does not read like Ikea assembly instructions”

If he criticised the term “Islamophobia” Charb recognised that there is indeed a fear of Islam. But if this worry is “absurd”, it “is not a crime,” he said.

“The problem is not the Koran or the Bible, which are sleep-inducing, incoherent and poorly written novels. The problem comes from a believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible as if they were the instructions of an Ikea shelf-kit.”

The author also believed that racist speech was unclenched under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and his ‘debate’ on national identity:

“When the highest  authority in the State said (in effect) to every moron and fool, “say what you want, you lot’, what do you think these morons and fool will do? They began to say out loud what they had been content to yell at the end of every, well-oiled, family meal. “

 Francois-Cerrah has a very different book on the “soporific” romance of the Qur’an.

“The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind. The opening of Al-Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognised, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realised that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible. In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?'”

We knew that she is one of the brigade of vultures who said of flocked around the attack on Charlie.

As she wrote in the New Statesman on January the 9th.

….they mocked the sacred symbols of many groups, but those of Muslims on a particularly frequent basis and in a distinctly racialised tone.

Not that this should ever warrant a violent response, but the eulogising of the magazine for some sort of mastery of European satirical tradition is a white wash of its chequered history as well as a capitulation to a simplistic narrative of “you’re either with the racist satirists or you’re with the terrorists”.

In weasel words she continued,

We must ensure slogans of solidarity become more than just narrow and questionable support for the targeted publication and instead provide resistance to all those voices which seek to divide France, to entrench camps and harden the already worrying divides.

Poor old Francois-Cerrah…..

Just couldn’t resist another dig at the corpses of our martyrs.

More on Charb’s much more interesting book:

A book written by the late editor of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier – known as Charb – is set to be published posthumously.

The book, which upholds the right to ridicule religion, was finished two days before Charb was killed by Islamic militants in January, publishers say.

It argues that the fight against racism is being replaced by a misguided struggle against “Islamophobia”.

Charb and 11 others were killed during a Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting.

The attack on the Paris offices of the newspaper was carried out by two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were later shot dead by police.

Charb had received numerous death threats following Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2012.

Charb’s book – which goes on sale on Thursday – is entitled An Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia who Play into Racists’ Hands.

It is both a defence of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial stance and an attack on the paper’s detractors.

“The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more prickly that the rest of the population – what is that, if not discrimination?”

He condemns this position as “white, left-wing bourgeois intellectual paternalism”.

BBC.

There is also this, just out, on the book which was being written before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher supermarket:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm

George Galloway Delves Further Into Sewer in Campaign Against Labour’s Naz Shah.

with 72 comments

Sewer: George Galloway’s Homeland.

Galloway excels himself.

Now out: Galloway calls for Labour’s Bradford West candidate to be prosecuted.

 

George Galloway, the Respect candidate in Bradford West, has called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge his Labour opponent Naz Shah with perjury over evidence she gave in the trial of her mother for murder and the subsequent appeal. He has also referred her to the DPP over claims she made under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act which concerns false representation.

“A jury in the original trial where her mother was convicted on four counts – fraud, soliciting murder, attempted murder and murder – not only unanimously decided her mother was guilty but concluded Naz Shah’s evidence was a tissue of lies, as did the appeal court,” Galloway said. “In particular she lied by claiming that she had bought samosas, which her mother had poisoned, in a shop. In fact her mother, as she subsequently agreed, made them and included a dose of arsenic she had brought back from Pakistan. Shah’s mother even stood by and watched her eat one before making her sick afterwards,’ he continued.

  “The Court of Appeal, in peremptorily dismissing her mother’s appeal, concurred. I am demanding that she is now prosecuted for perjury. Her testimony, and everything she has said since about the case, is a travesty of the truth. You can either believe the judgments or the fairy tale Ms Shah has since presented.”

 Galloway continued: “I deeply regret that Labour has continued to drag this sordid tale and this disreputable candidate and her story across Bradford West voters. There is much more but I have no wish to delve further into the sewer.”

Respect Party.

“George Galloway and his Labour rival have each now reported the other to the Director of Public Prosecutions as their battle becomes one of the most bitter and personal election campaigns in memory.

The contest has become overwhelmed by claims and counter-claims about the sad childhood of Naz Shah, Labour’s challenger for the Respect founder’s seat.

Ms Shah has described a life of Dickensian misery in which she developed poverty-related tuberculosis, was forced into a teenage marriage and then saw her mother convicted of murder for poisoning a lover by feeding him a samosa laced with arsenic.”

Here.

We assume that Galloway’s reference to “much worse” refers to the anonymous dossier, “he anonymous dossier, The Truth about Naz Shah, Bradford West’s Labour Party Candidate for 2015 General Election http://nazshah.besaba.com/#sthash.oTXRk7on.dpuf is libelous,

“”5. NAZ SHAH FOCUSES ATTENTION ON HER SCANDALOUS PERSONAL LIFE AND AVOIDS TALKING ABOUT POLICIES” “8. NAZ SHAH IS REVILED AND SHUNNED BY PEOPLE IN HER PERSONAL LIFE” “9. NAZ SHAH ASTOUNDINGLY BRAGS ABOUT BEING UNEDUCATED AND UNREAD” “. 80% OF THE INFORMATION NAZ SHAH’S PEDDLES ABOUT HER AND HER MOTHER’S HISTORY ARE LIES ” “10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT NAZ SHAH’S MOTHER. Zoora Shah is the convicted killer mother who Naz Shah of Bradford Labour regularly praises in interviewsNAZ SHAH’S MOTHER IS A KILLER AND NOTORIOUS CRIMINAL WHO HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY AND IMPRISONED FOR MULTIPLE CRIMES. THE SEPARATE PRISON SENTENCES SHE WAS AWARDED WERE 7 YEARS, 10 YEARS, 12 YEARS, AND ALSO A LIFE SENTENCE”.

The link appears to be no longer working.

We wonder why.

Galloway in Fight for Dear Life as Mudslinging at Naz Shah Backfires.

with 81 comments

It’s all go in Bradford for Britain’s 3rd Highest Outside Earning Parliamentarian.

The BBC reports,

A hustings in the seat of Bradford West has started trending online – because of a claim by George Galloway about his opponent’s forced marriage.

The hashtag #BradfordWest has been retweeted more than 2,000 times after an exchange between the Respect candidate George Galloway and the Labour candidate Naz Shah.

After she was selected as Labour candidate, Shah published an open letter which outlined her extraordinary upbringing. She said she had grown up in severe poverty after her father eloped with a neighbour. She was then sent to Pakistan to escape her mother’s abusive partner and while there, aged 15, she says she was forced to marry. Her mother eventually killed her abusive partner and was jailed, which meant that Shah had to care for two younger siblings. She left her husband in 1992, and became active in politics after her mother’s imprisonment.

But George Galloway of the Respect Party, whom she is running against for the seat, has attacked her claim that she was forced into a marriage at 15 – or at least, that part of his hustings speech is what picked up the most attention on social media when aclip of Galloway’s speech found its way onto YouTube. Shah maintains that her version of events is true.

Galloway, we recall has an “interesting” relation to the truth.

Then comes the decisive point,

Galloway claims that Shah has “only a passing acquaintance with the truth, you claimed and gullible journalists believed you that you were subject to a forced marriage at the age of 15 but you were not 15. You were 16 and a half.” He then produces a document which he claims is Shah’s nikah (a marriage certificate produced when people are wed under Shariah law). The Guardian’s Northern Editor Helen Pidd, who attended the hustings and who was live tweeting throughout the event reported that Shah “utterly refuted the allegations and said she had the documentation to prove it.” Shah accused Galloway of sending someone to Pakistan to impersonate her dead father in order to obtain her “nikah” and vowed to sue Galloway after the general election.

The Guardian’s live tweeting of the hustings started to attract attention on Twitter, but unusually given the parties involved, Conservative commentators were among the first ones to leap to Shah’s defence online. The former Conservative MP Louise Mensch was the first to take up the issue. “HOW DID YOU OBTAIN NAZ SHAH’S PRIVATE RELIGIOUS DOCUMENTATION” she asked on Twitter. “I’m not a Labour supporter,” Mensch tweeted. “But I am a feminist. And if anyone thinks they can smear @NazShahBfd to influence an election they are mistaken.”

Yup, this is what the Guardian says, George Galloway says his Labour opponent tried to join his party

Respect MP claims Naz Shah formerly asked to represent his party, but she accuses him of ordering someone to impersonate her dead father.

Galloway said Shah made the request to represent Respect the day after initially failing to be selected by Labour, coming last in a vote by local party members. She was only chosen after the original winner, London Labour councillor Amina Ali,abruptly quit, citing childcare issues.

Shah, who has admitted she voted and campaigned for Galloway in the 2012 byelection, said she had been making a joke and could produce a conversation on messaging app Whatsapp to prove it.

She then accused Galloway of ordering someone to go to Pakistan and pretend to be her dead father in order to obtain her Islamic marriage certificate, the nikah. Galloway had earlier told hustings that Shah had lied about being forced into marriage aged 15, producing the nikah from his jacket pocket, to gasps from one half of the 200-strong audience at the Carlisle Business Centre and cheers from the other. He said the certificate proved she had in fact been 16 and a half.

Shah said she “absolutely refuted” the allegation that she had lied, insisting she had the documentation to prove it, asking Galloway: “What has my nikah got to do with Bradford West? What have your four marriages got to do with Bradford West?” She then pledged to sue Galloway after the general election.

Labour List says,

Shah has said this took place when she was 15, but Galloway went to extreme lengths last night to produce a “nikah” (an Islamic marriage certificate) from Pakistan (which Shah says was obtained by someone pretending to be her deceased father).

They comment,

Regardless, we’re not sure what difference it makes whether someone was forced into an arranged marriage at 15 or 16 – surely it’s unacceptable either way Mr Galloway?

There are claims that Galloway has broken electoral law.

This is not the first such charge.

A few days ago there was this,

George Galloway is on the campaign trail as a candidate now that Parliament has been dissolved – he is not an MP. Yet he persistently breaks electoral law by handing out leaflets which refer to him as an MP as well as failing to notify his website’s visitors that he is now no longer an elected representative.

Here is the latest Bradford West Life leaflet, currently being distributed by George Galloway for the election.

Note the line: “Monthly newsletter of George Galloway MP”

Backbencher. 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm